The Star (Nairobi)

12 June 2012

Kenya: Taru Students Stranded in School Demo

About 46 students from Taru secondary school in Kinango district on Monday spent the night at the coast provincial headquarters. They were stranded in Mombasa.

The male students had travelled to Mombasa to protest the suspension of 10 of their colleagues. The 10 were suspended by deputy principal Josphat Maurice Mutinda for alleged gross indiscipline.

However the students said the 10 were suspended on Friday after they protested Mutinda's alleged involvement in 'questionable behaviours. Mutinda dismissed the claims as false. "He has a music system in his office that he plays loud even during preps. On Saturday, there was a girl who spent the whole of the night preps in his office," one of the students told the Star on Monday evening. They said their principal, Prince Sifa Mbaru, who is new to the mixed school, failed to address their grievances and instead referred them to the area district education officer.

However, Mutinda said the students were not sent away. He said they are afraid of the mid-term exams. The exams were scheduled to start yesterday. "Only a few of them, about 10, were suspended due to indiscipline. Others are in school," said Mutinda when reached on phone. He also accused the students of refusing to contribute to a project that the school plans to initiate.

On Monday evening, outgoing coast provincial director of education Tom Majani, who came across the students along Nkrumah Road, sped off after journalists started taking pictures of him addressing the students from his car. Yesterday, Mombasa county commissioner Nelson Marwa ordered Majani to investigate the matter and find the root of the problem. He said the students could not walk all the way to Mombasa for no reason. The students, who looked tired on Monday evening, walked from Taru to Samburu from where they boarded a bus to Mombasa after each contributed money for fare. "Their grievances must be heard. I'm disturbed by the fact that the headteacher of that school cannot address their problems. They had to walk to the PDE's office. I think the headteacher should be sent packing very fast," Marwa said

The students were given food on Monday evening and a place to sleep, said Marwa. He said they were also provided with breakfast yesterday morning. The Taru school bus was sent to pick the students and take them back to school under police escort.

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